If you only had two hours to show someone around your fair city, what would you choose to do?
My sister, Olivia Metcalf, was in town recently and they day she flew out, we had some time to kill, so we decided to come up with a new idea that we will hopefully follow up on in different places we visit.
So, I present, Two Hours to kill in Tacoma on a Saturday afternoon.
11:30 a.m.: We drove to 6th Avenue to take her to our favorite restaurant in town, Shakabrah. It is an old school diner with lots of organic food, good coffee and a really cool, granola-type atmosphere. Very Northwesty.
Only problem? Everyone else in Tacoma wanted to eat there as well and with wait times up to 30 minutes we decided to skip it. We then headed to the Hilltop Kitchen, because Veronica and I have heard great things about them. Only problem: 21 and over. Rather than leave Catarina in the car on this hot summer day, we decided to try a third place.
At this point we were all rather hangry, but we pushed on and hit up the Antique Sandwich Company, next to Point Defiance Park. It turned out to be a glorious idea. Good sandwiches, oatmeal and salads. Oh, and Catarina may or may not have peed on the floor. That was a bit awkward.
12:15 p.m.: What trip to Tacoma is complete without a visit to the waterfront? We thought about heading into Point Defiance Park and taking a quick spin around Five Mile Drive, but it is closed to vehicle traffic before 1 p.m. on the weekends – which is really cool, unless you want to show your guest the park.
Instead, we headed down to Ruston Way. This is easily one of my favorite Tacoma spots, but we don’t visit very often because it takes a long time to get there from our house in University Place.
We grabbed a parking spot next to The Ram (good eats there as well, by the way), and took a stroll down the paved walking path that runs next to the Puget Sound. I never tire of walking along the water and seeing the islands and mountains in the distance. After heading out onto one of the fishing piers and enjoying more of the view, we hoofed it back to the car so we could check out some of the cool architecture in downtown.
12:45 p.m.: We picked up some Starbucks and then headed downtown. I had seen the Spanish Steps a few times in passing, but had never stopped and really checked them out or taken pictures. The Steps are a grand, white staircase running down the hillside between Broadway and Commerce streets in downtown Tacoma. They are located next to the Elks Lodge, which eventually will feature a McMenamin’s restaurant and bar.
They were built in 1915 and are modeled after the Scalinata di Spagna in Rome, and have a towering Monkey Puzzle Tree looming at the top of the landing above them.
We didn’t stay long as Catarina was getting grouchy about being in her car seat.
1 p.m.: We took a quick detour past Stadium High School, just so Liv could see it. The school was built in 1891 and was used in the movie Ten Things I Hate About You. It is gorgeous.
1:05 p.m.: We decided to cap our little journey with a trip to Ethnic Fest, which was taking place in Wright Park. One of our favorite parts of living in a big, diverse city is all of the festivals, including ones as varied as this one.
We spent about 30 minutes here before eventually heading out. Come back and visit our blog Wednesday to read more about our experience at Ethnic Fest.
In the end, two hours isn’t a ton of time to see much of a city, but if you are creative you can still do some fun stuff.
Lunch, a walk next to the ocean, a trip down memory lane, a beautiful building, and a festival is a pretty jam packed two hours. Thank goodness for the coffee.
– Craig Craker